- Skin Discoloration & Pigmentation Disorders: Causes & Treatments
- Skin pigmentation disorders
- Discolored skin patches: Pictures, causes, and when to see a doctor
- Skin rashes
- Skin infections
- Skin cancers
- Medical conditions
- Other causes
- Hyperpigmentation – American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD)
- Hyperpigmentation, Hypopigmentation, and Your Skin
- Skin Discoloration & Hyperpigmentation – Affiliated Dermatology
- What causes Hyperpigmentation
- How to treatHyperpigmentation
- Sun Damage
- Birth Marks
- Uneven Skin Tone
- Request an Appointment
- What You Should Know About Hyperpigmentation
Skin Discoloration & Pigmentation Disorders: Causes & Treatments
Birthmarks and other skin pigmentation (coloration) disorders affect many people. Some of the most common problems are listed below. If you think you have one of these pigmentation abnormalities, be sure to see a physician or dermatologist to receive an official diagnosis.
As might be expected, these abnormal skin colorations will appear at birth or just a few weeks after birth. While most birthmarks are non-cancerous, certain birthmarks, described below, can pose health risks.
This birthmark is marked by bluish or grayish discoloration of the face and sometimes the white part of the eye (sclera). The discoloration is caused by increased amounts of the pigment (melanin) and the cells that produce this pigment (melanocytes) in and around the eyes.
Patients with this type of birthmark are at a higher risk of developing a melanoma cancer of their eye or central nervous system. In addition, they may develop glaucoma (increased pressures in their eyes). For this reason, they should have regular examinations by a neurologist as well as an ophthalmologist.
Potential treatments for this skin discoloration include topical (applied on the skin) bleaching agents, such as hydroquinone, and laser treatments.
These birthmarks appear bruised or bluish in color and usually develop on the back or buttocks of babies. This discoloration usually disappears by age 4 and does not need to be treated.
- Café-au-lait spots (French for “coffee with milk”)
These are light brown-to-dark brown flat spots with smooth or irregular borders. About 10% of the general population has 1 or 2 of these spots, and do not have another disorder that is related to it.
However, 6 or more of these spots that are greater than 0.5 cm in diameter can be associated with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis. These birthmarks may be treated with a laser for cosmetic purposes.
These spots may be flesh-colored to light-to-dark brown. They may be flat or raised. Although most moles are benign (non-cancerous) and will not cause any problems, some may change and become a skin cancer called a melanoma. For this reason, moles should be watched for bleeding, pain, itch, color, shape, symmetry, even borders, and size changes.
- A way to check these moles is ABCDE:
- A for asymmetry. If you divide your mole in half, both sides should look the same.
- B for border. The border of your mole should be even.
- C for color. Your mole should be one color. Your mole should not have a variety of colors, especially colors red or blue.
- D for diameter. Moles less than 0.6 cm in diameter are usually benign. If your mole increases in size, especially if it is greater than 0.6 cm, you should have it checked.
- E for evolving or elevation. If your mole was flat but is now elevated (raised), or if you notice bleeding, crusting, pain, or itching, this should be checked out.
If any of these features change, you should have your moles examined. If you have a personal or family history of melanoma, you should have a regular examination of your moles by a dermatologist.
Vascular birthmarks (from blood vessels)
Macular stains appear anywhere on the body as mild red marks, but they are not elevated. They are the most common type of vascular birthmark.
They can come in two forms: “angel kisses,” which may appear on the forehead and eyelids and usually disappear after age two; or “stork bites,” which will appear on the back of the neck and can last into the adult years.
Because these marks are often mild and always harmless, they do not need to be treated.
Hemangiomas are growths that are made up of many tiny blood vessels bunched together. Some hemangiomas are more serious. They are more common in females and premature babies. This birthmark is usually just a small mark on the face, trunk, or extremities (arms and legs). However, in some children, hemangiomas can be large and grow rapidly through the first year of life.
There are 2 types of hemangiomas: strawberry (or superficial), which are slightly raised and can appear anywhere on the body; or cavernous (deep), which are deeper birthmarks marked by a bluish color. Fortunately, most hemangiomas will go away on their own: 50% get better by age 5, 70% by age 7, and 90% by age 9.
If the hemangioma is small and not causing any problems, it can be watched to see if it gets better. Reasons to treat a hemangioma include problems with functions (such as sight, eating, hearing, or defecation), ulceration, bleeding, or pain.
If necessary, hemangiomas can be treated in different ways, each of which carries its own risks. Corticosteroid medication can be injected or taken orally (by mouth). Risks of corticosteroid medication include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor growth, or cataracts.
Certain hemangiomas can also be treated with lasers to stop them from growing, and heal them. Rare risks associated with laser treatment include ulceration and scarring.
In addition, both topical and oral beta blocker medication has been used to treat hemangiomas, but these medications also carry their own risks that should be carefully discussed with your dermatologist. In rare cases, a hemangioma can be removed with surgery.
A port wine stain appears as a flat pink, red, or purple mark on the face, trunk, arms, or legs, and lasts a lifetime. Port wine stains are caused by abnormal development of blood vessels (capillaries). Over time, the port wine stain may become raised and thickened.
Port wine stains on eyelids are thought to pose an increased risk of glaucoma. Physicians have tried many ways to treat port wine stains, including radiation, tattooing, freezing, dermabrasion, or sclerotherapy.
Laser therapy is currently the treatment of choice, as it is the only method that destroys capillaries in the skin without causing damage to the rest of the skin.
Port wine stains may be seen in certain medical disorders, such as Sturge-Weber Syndrome, whose symptoms include port wine stains on the face, vision problems, convulsions, mental retardation, and perhaps even paralysis; and Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, in which a limb has port wine stains, varicose veins, and/or too much bone and soft tissue growth. Both of these syndromes are very rare.
Skin pigmentation disorders
Albinism, an inherited disorder, is caused by the absence of the pigment melanin, and results in no pigmentation in the skin, hair, or eyes. Albinos have an abnormal gene that restricts the production of melanin. There is no cure for albinism.
People who have this disorder should use a sunscreen at all times because they are much more ly to get sun damage and skin cancer. Albinism can occur in any race, but is most common in Caucasians.
In addition, almost all patients with albinism have problems with their eyes, such as decreased vision or abnormal eye movement, and should be seen by an ophthalmologist.
Melasma (also known as chloasma) is marked by tan or brown patches that may appear on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, nose, and chin. Although this condition is often called the “pregnancy mask,” men can also develop it. It may also occur in women who are taking birth control pills or postmenopausal estrogen.
Melasma may go away after pregnancy, but if it remains, it can be treated with certain prescription creams and some over-the-counter skin care products. In addition, lasers that target pigment can be helpful. Remember to consult your dermatologist for a proper diagnosis of this condition before you choose to treat it yourself.
If you have melasma, use a sunscreen at all times because sunlight will make the condition worse.
- Pigmentation alteration (change) as a result of skin damage (post-inflammatory hyper- or hypopigmentation)
If you have had a skin infection, blisters, burns, or other trauma to your skin, you may have a decrease or increase of pigmentation in the affected area. This type of alteration is usually not permanent, but may take up to several months to fade or get better.
Cosmetics can be used to cover the area. In the case of hyperpigmentation (dark spots), prescription or over-the-counter lightening creams may help decrease the amount of time for the areas to fade.
You should also wear sunscreen, as sunlight can prolong the darkness of the areas.
Vitiligo is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks pigment cells (melanocytes), causing pigment loss. Other immune system diseases associated with vitiligo include diabetes, pernicious anemia, thyroid disease, and Addison’s disease.
Vitiligo causes smooth, white skin patches, usually around the mouth and eyes, or on the back of the hands. In some people, these patches can appear all over the body.
There is no cure for vitiligo, but there are several treatments, including: topical steroid preparations; topical immunomodulators; topical vitamin D analogs; dyes or psoralens (light-sensitive drugs) used in combination with ultraviolet A (UVA) light treatment; and, the Excimer laser, which delivers targeted ultraviolet B (UVB) light. All treatments may take 6 or more months to be effective.
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Discolored skin patches: Pictures, causes, and when to see a doctor
- When to see a doctor
Patches of discolored skin are common and have many different causes, including birthmarks, pigmentation disorders, rashes, and infections. Some causes are harmless, but others will require medical attention.
Skin contains melanin, which is the pigment that gives the skin its color. Having more melanin makes the skin darker, while less of it results in lighter skin. Melanin is also responsible for hair and eye color.
Patches of discolored skin are noticeable because they differ from a person’s normal skin tone. They may be lighter, darker, or a different color, such as red, gray, or blue.
It is important that people with this symptom understand the cause of their discolored skin patches in case treatment is necessary.
This article explores the various causes of discolored skin patches and explains which of them require treatment.
Share on PinterestVitiligo is a skin pigmentation disorder that causes patches of lighter skin.
Discolored skin patches have many different causes, including:
- skin pigmentation disorders
- skin rashes
- skin infections
- skin cancers
- medical conditions
We look at each one of these in more detail below.
Some types of skin rash can also cause patches of discolored skin. These include:
- Rosacea. This is a chronic skin condition that can cause raised patches of red skin and pus-filled lesions. It typically affects the forehead, cheeks, and nose.
- Psoriasis. This is a skin condition that causes silvery-red, crusty, flaky patches of skin, which can appear anywhere on the body. Doctors believe that psoriasis may result from a problem with the immune system.
- Contact dermatitis. This rash happens when the skin reacts to an irritant or allergen.
- Eczema. Also known as atopic dermatitis, this condition can cause patches of red skin that is also itchy, dry, and cracked. These patches may sometimes ooze and then form a crust. The cause of eczema is unclear, but it can run in families and is more common in people who have asthma, hay fever, and other allergies.
Share on PinterestRingworm causes ring-shaped marks on the skin that are scaly, dry, or itchy.
Certain skin infections may also cause discoloration, such as:
- Tinea versicolor. This is a fungal skin infection that can cause patches of skin to become lighter or darker. These patches usually develop slowly and can sometimes merge to form larger patches. Tinea versicolor tends to affect the trunk, neck, and upper arms.
- Ringworm. Also known as tinea, this is a fungal skin infection that causes red or silver ring-shaped patches of skin. These patches may be scaly, dry, or itchy. Ringworm can appear on most parts of the body, including the scalp, groin, feet, hands, and nails.
- Candidiasis of the skin. This is a fungal skin infection that causes red, itchy skin patches. It often occurs in areas where the skin folds, such as the armpits and groin.
In rare cases, skin cancer can cause patches of discoloration. Types of skin cancer include:
- Actinic keratosis. These are dry, scaly, pre-cancerous skin patches. Without treatment, they may progress to squamous cell carcinoma.
- Basal cell carcinoma. These are flesh-colored, pearl-, pink skin patches or bumps. Basal cell carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. These are red bumps, sores, or scaly patches, which may heal and then re-open. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common type of skin cancer.
- Melanoma. This cancer may develop in existing moles or appear as new dark spots. Melanomas are the most severe form of skin cancer, and early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial.
Certain medical conditions, including the following, may cause discolored patches of skin:
- Cyanosis. Insufficient oxygen in the blood can cause the skin and lips to appear blue or purple. Cyanosis that occurs suddenly could be a sign of a problem with the heart, lungs, or airways. This is a medical emergency, and a person should seek immediate medical attention.
- Lupus. This is a complex autoimmune condition that may cause a butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks.
Undiagnosed or untreated diabetes can also cause changes in the skin, such as:
- yellow, reddish, or brown patches of skin
- dark, velvety patches of skin
- thick, hard patches of skin
- shin spots
If discolored skin patches appear suddenly and then disappear, there may be a simple explanation.
Causes of temporary patches or blotches of red skin include:
Causes of temporary patches of pale skin include:
- low blood sugar
- cold weather conditions
If a new patch of discolored skin appears and does not go away, it is best to see a doctor. It is also important to seek medical attention if a mole changes size, shape, or texture.
To diagnose discolored patches of skin, a doctor may ask the individual about:
- pre-existing medical conditions
- when and how quickly the discolored patch of skin appeared
- whether the discolored patch of skin has changed since it first appeared
- any related symptoms
The doctor may examine the affected skin under a lamp. They may also need to carry out further tests, such as blood tests and a skin biopsy. The skin biopsy will involve the doctor taking a small sample of skin and examining it under a microscope.
Share on PinterestA person should see a doctor if the discolored area of skin does not go away.
The treatment for discolored skin depends on the cause.
If a person has an underlying health condition, the doctor will recommend the best course of treatment for that condition. Treating the underlying condition often resolves any associated skin problems.
If the underlying cause is skin cancer, it is vital that the person has treatment as soon as possible.
Birthmarks and skin pigmentation disorders do not usually require treatment. However, some people may wish to have treatment for cosmetic reasons. Treatment options include laser treatment, chemical peels, and topical creams.
Lemon juice or castor oil may also help to reduce the appearance of discolored skin patches. Alternatively, people can use makeup to camouflage the affected skin.
It is not possible to prevent all causes of discolored patches of skin.
However, sun protection may reduce the risk of melasma, sunburn, and skin cancer. People can protect themselves from the sun by:
- using sunscreen
- staying the midday sun
- covering up with loose clothing
There are many possible causes of discolored skin patches. Some causes, such as birthmarks, are not harmful and may not require treatment. Others, such as skin cancer and cyanosis, are ly to require immediate treatment.
It is essential to see a doctor if any new discolored patches of skin appear or if existing moles change in any way. This helps to make early diagnosis and treatment possible, which often leads to a better outlook.
- Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses
Hyperpigmentation – American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD)
Hyperpigmentation is a common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin. Hyperpigmentation can affect the skin color of people of any race.
Age or “liver” spots are a common form of hyperpigmentation. They occur due to sun damage, and are referred to by doctors as solar lentigines. These small, darkened patches are usually found on the hands and face or other areas frequently exposed to the sun.
Melasma or chloasma spots are similar in appearance to age spots but are larger areas of darkened skin that appear most often as a result of hormonal changes.
Pregnancy, for example, can trigger overproduction of melanin that causes the “mask of pregnancy” on the face and darkened skin on the abdomen and other areas.
Women who take birth control pills may also develop hyperpigmentation because their bodies undergo similar kind of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. If one is really bothered by the pigment, the birth control pills should be stopped.
Changes in skin color can result from outside causes. For example, skin diseases such as acne may leave dark spots after the condition clears. Other causes of dark spots are injuries to the skin, including some surgeries. Freckles are small brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face and arms. Freckles are an inherited characteristic.
Freckles, age spots, and other darkened skin patches can become darker or more pronounced when skin is exposed to the sun. This happens because melanin absorbs the energy of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays in order to protect he skin from overexposure.
The usual result of this process is skin tanning, which tends to darken areas that are already hyperpigmented. Wearing a sunscreen is a must. The sunscreen must be “broad spectrum” (i.e. it blocks both UVA and UVB).
A single day of excess sun can undo months of treatment.
Most prescription creams used to lighten the skin contain hydroquinone. Bleaches lighten and fade darkened skin patches by slowing the production of melanin so those dark spots gradually fade to match normal skin coloration.
Prescription bleaches contain twice the amount of hydroquinone, the active ingredient, as over-the-counter skin bleaches. In more severe cases prescription creams with tretinoin and a cortisone cream may be used.
These may be somewhat irritating to sensitive skin and will take 3-6 months to produce improvement.
There are now several highly effective laser treatments. The q-switched ruby and other pigmented lesion lasers often remove pigment without scarring. A test spot in an inconspicuous place will need to be done as they sometimes make things worse instead of better.
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The medical information provided in this site is for educational purposes only and is the property of the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice and shall not create a physician – patient relationship.
If you have a specific question or concern about a skin lesion or disease, please consult a dermatologist.
Any use, re-creation, dissemination, forwarding or copying of this information is strictly prohibited unless expressed written permission is given by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
Hyperpigmentation, Hypopigmentation, and Your Skin
- Hyperpigmentation and Skin
- Hypopigmentation and Skin
Pigmentation is the coloring of a person's skin. When a person is healthy, his or her skin color will appear normal. In the case of illness or injury, the person's skin may change color, becoming darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation).
Hyperpigmentation in skin is caused by an increase in melanin, the substance in the body that is responsible for color (pigment).
Certain conditions, such as pregnancy or Addison's disease (decreased function of the adrenal gland), may cause a greater production of melanin and hyperpigmentation.
Exposure to sunlight is a major cause of hyperpigmentaion, and will darken already hyperpigmented areas.
Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by various drugs, including some antibiotics, antiarrhythmics, and antimalarial drugs.
An example of hyperpigmentation is melasma. This condition is characterized by tan or brown patches, most commonly on the face. Melasma can occur in pregnant women and is often called the “mask of pregnancy;” however, men can also develop this condition. Melasma sometimes goes away after pregnancy. It can also be treated with certain prescription creams (such as hydroquinone).
If you have melasma, try to limit your exposure to daylight. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher at all times, because sunlight will worsen your condition. Sunscreens containing the physical blockers zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are also helpful in blocking daylight’s UVA rays, which makes hyperpigmentation worse.
Consult with your doctor before treating the condition yourself.
Hypopigmentation in skin is the result of a reduction in melanin production. Examples of hypopigmentation include:
- Vitiligo: Vitiligo causes smooth, white patches on the skin. In some people, these patches can appear all over the body. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the pigment-producing cells are damaged. There is no cure for vitiligo, but there are several treatments, including cosmetic cover-ups, corticosteroid creams, calcineurin inhibitors (Elidel cream, Protopic ointment) or ultraviolet light treatments. New topical treatments using Janus Kinase inhibitors are being investigated.
- Albinism: Albinism is a rare inherited disorder caused by the absence of an enzyme that produces melanin. This results in a complete lack of pigmentation in skin, hair, and eyes. Albinos have an abnormal gene that restricts the body from producing melanin. There is no cure for albinism. People with albinism should use a sunscreen at all times because they are much more ly to get sun damage and skin cancer. This disorder can occur in any race, but is most common among whites.
- Pigmentation loss as a result of skin damage: If you've had a skin infection, blisters, burns, or other trauma to your skin, you may have a loss of pigmentation in the affected area. The good news with this type of pigment loss is that it's frequently not permanent, but it may take a long time to re-pigment. Cosmetics can be used to cover the area, while the body regenerates the pigment.
Merck Manual Home Health Handbook: “Overview of Skin Pigment.”
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: “Hyperpigmentation.”
American Academy of Dermatology: “Melasma.”
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “Healthy Skin Matters.”
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Skin Discoloration & Hyperpigmentation – Affiliated Dermatology
Hyperpigmentation is a particular condition of the skin that causes the darkening of certain areas of skin. It is primarily caused by the overproduction of ‘melanin’ a skin pigment.
This condition is quite common in both genders belonging to any of the ethnic group especially in the ethnicities with light complexions. Hyperpigmentation is usually a harmless condition but in some cases, it may also be a symptom of illness or any disease.
Most of the people are concerned about this condition because of its aesthetic implications which disturbs them and cause stress and anxiety.
What causes Hyperpigmentation
There are two major reasons due to which hyperpigmentation occur:
- The concentrations of melanocytes, which are responsible for producing melanin within skin, become very high
- Hyperactivation of melanocytes
There are different types of hyperpigmentation which fall in any one of the following categories, according to their causes:
- Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH): the causes of this type of hyperpigmentation include injury to the skin due to burns, psoriasis, acne lesions, skin friction and sometimes even due to the application of some skincare treatments.Usually, this condition eliminates the activation of the skin regeneration system but can take many months. Hyperpigmentation treatment works quite effectively on PIH.
- UV Exposure/ Generalised Dullness of Skin: This type of hyperpigmentation is caused by normal UVB sun exposure however it’s not much noticeable in the spots form. It appears in the form of general skin dullness on the entire face. The skin tone of the face becomes dull and dark as compared to the other parts of the body. Many women conceal this facial dullness by making use of concealers and facial foundations which helps to brighten up skin tone.
- Lentigines: This condition is also referred to as liver or age spots. With progressive aging, these spots become more visible but aging is not directly responsible for their appearance. These are caused primarily due to excessive exposure to UV rays.
- Melasma: hormonal imbalance is usually responsible for this kind of hyperpigmentation. It is commonly caused due to thyroid dysfunction, hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy-related melasma & hyperpigmentation.
- Tanning Beds/Booths: According to the American Academy of Dermatology and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds, tanning booths, and sun lamps are known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning has been proven to increase the risk of all skin cancers, including melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and basal cell carcinomas. In fact, the risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when indoor tanning devices are used before the age of 30. The UV radiation during indoor tanning also leads to skin aging, hyper- and hypopigmentation, immune suppression and eye damage, such as cataracts. Therefore, the use of tanning beds, tanning booths, and sun lamps is not recommended by dermatologists.
- Skin picking
- Medications antibiotics, hormones, and anti-seizure medications.
- Skin inflammation
How to treat Hyperpigmentation
- Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: The use of broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 and above is highly recommended during sun exposure in order to prevent any further skin damage due to UV rays exposure.
- Hydroquinone & Kojic Acid: Both are very effective cosmeceutical skin lightener products. Hydroquinone is also referred to as the ‘Gold Standard’ for treating hyperpigmentation. For enhancing the results of this hyperpigmentation treatment, it can be used in combination with antioxidants, hydroxy acids retinoids. Kojic acid offers almost similar results to that of hydroquinone and even better when used in combination with hydroquinone and glycolic acid.
- Vitamin A products: these include Retinol and Tretinoin that helps in skin rejuvenation and resurfacing and also helps to increase the turnover of cells.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids: these not only exfoliate skin but also smooth the skin and increase the cell turnover while giving even skin tone.
Skin peels for hyperpigmentation treatment give improved and enhanced results when other topical therapies are unable to provide desired results. Chemical skin peels have essential and natural skincare ingredients including Lactic, Salicylic and Glycolic Acid which helps in skin resurfacing and also increase cell turnover.
This treatment may be used along with other topical therapies to achieve optimal results. Chemical skin peels are available in varying depths and strengths to suit different skin types.
Microneedling utilizes a special device to gently rejuvenate the skin and improve pigmentation. This hyperpigmentation treatment helps in the reduction of pigmentation by increasing cell turnover while at the same time during treatment powerful anti-oxidants and skin brighteners are infused into the skin.
Repeated and prolonged exposure to the sun results in sun damage. Skin damaged by the ultraviolet rays of the sun appears mottled, with uneven pigmentation and redness from dilated blood vessels. Freckles and liver spots, or lentigines, become more numerous.
Damage to the deeper connective tissue results in fine lines, wrinkling and loose, sagging skin. Prevention of sun damage begins early in life with sunscreen, limiting sun exposure and avoiding tanning beds. Irregular pigmentation can be reduced with laser surgery or intense pulsed light.
Botox and fillers can be used to address wrinkling and sagging skin.
Birthmarks, port wine stains and freckles and other forms of pigmentation occur naturally. The most common birthmarks fall into two categories – vascular marks and pigmented marks. Vascular marks include port-wine stains, salmon patches, and hemangiomas.
These are made of blood vessels that have been damaged or didn‘t form correctly in the womb, causing a red discoloration of the skin. Pigmented marks include freckles, cafe au lait spots, Mongolian spots, moles, and melasma.
These marks range from tan to very dark brown and are caused by an overproduction of pigment at birth or during puberty and hormonal shifts.
The Affiliated Dermatology team offers several solutions to eliminate or lighten these skin discolorations with no downtime. During your consultation, a medically trained team member will determine what treatment approach is best for your skin. Booking a consultation with one of our specialists is the best way to begin your journey towards a clear even skin tone.
Uneven Skin Tone
There are several causes of uneven skin. One of the most common is an overproduction of melanin. This hormone is responsible for giving your hair and skin its color and protecting your skin from UV ray damage. Melanin production is one of the body’s ways of protecting the skin, however, this overproduction can cause the skin to appear patchy and uneven.
There are many reasons that your body can begin to produce extra melanin. Too much sun, hormonal changes or scarring are just a few of them. Whatever the causes for your skin’s uneven tone, there are now some amazing ways to reverse and correct it.
Affiliated Dermatology offers a menu of products specifically created to brighten and even your skin’s tone. We also offer an array of corrective treatments such as chemical peels and microneedling, that work wonders to correct uneven skin tone. Whatever the method you choose, Affiliated Dermatology is here to offer you tips and solutions to achieve the bright, even skin tone you desire.
Request an Appointment
For more information or to schedule an appointment at one of our several dermatology offices in Arizona, please contact us by calling (480) 556-0446 or leaving us a message with the contact form below.
What You Should Know About Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation isn’t necessarily a condition but a term that describes skin that appears darker. It can:
- occur in small patches
- cover large areas
- affect the entire body
While increased pigmentation usually isn’t harmful, it can be a symptom of another medical condition. Learn about types of hyperpigmentation, causes, and how to treat it.
There are several types of hyperpigmentation, the common ones being melasma, sunspots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Melasma. Melasma is believed to be caused by hormonal changes and may develop during pregnancy. Areas of hyperpigmentation can appear on any area of the body, but they appear most commonly on the stomach and face.
- Sunspots. Also called liver spots or solar lentigines, sunspots are common. They’re related to excess sun exposure over time. Generally, they appear as spots on areas exposed to the sun, the hands and face.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is a result of injury or inflammation to the skin. A common cause of this type is acne.
Darkened areas on the skin are the main symptoms of hyperpigmentation. Patches can vary in size and develop anywhere on the body.
The biggest risk factors for general hyperpigmentation are sun exposure and inflammation, as both situations can increase melanin production. The greater your exposure to the sun, the greater your risk of increased skin pigmentation.
Depending on the type of disorder, other risk factors for hyperpigmented patches may include:
- oral contraceptive use or pregnancy, as seen with melasma
- darker skin type, which is more prone to pigmentation changes
- drugs that increase your sensitivity to the sunlight
- trauma to the skin, such as a wound or superficial burn injury
A common cause of hyperpigmentation is an excess production of melanin. Melanin is a pigment that gives skin its color. It’s produced by skin cells called melanocytes. Several different conditions or factors can alter the production of melanin in your body.
Certain medications can cause hyperpigmentation. Also, some chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation as a side effect.
Pregnancy changes hormone levels and can affect melanin production in some women.
A rare endocrine disease called Addison’s disease can produce hyperpigmentation that’s most obvious in areas of sun exposure, such as the face, neck, and hands, and areas exposure to friction, such as elbows and knees.
The hyperpigmentation is a direct result of an increased level of a hormone in your body that results in increased melanin synthesis.
Excessive sun exposure can also cause an increase in melanin.
A dermatologist can diagnose the cause of your hyperpigmentation. They will request your medical history and give you a physical exam to determine the cause. In some cases, a skin biopsy can narrow down the cause.
Topical prescription medication can treat some cases of hyperpigmentation. This medication usually contains hydroquinone, which lightens the skin.
However, prolonged use of topical hydroquinone (without any breaks in use) can cause darkening of the skin, known as ochronosis. So it’s best to use topical hydroquinone only under the care of a dermatologist so that they can properly guide you on how to use the medication without any adverse effects.
Using topical retinoids also assists with lightening dark spots of the skin.
Both of these medications can take a few months to lighten darkened areas.
Home care sometimes includes over-the-counter medications that may lighten dark spots. These medications don’t contain as much hydroquinone as prescription medications.
Home care also includes using sunscreen. Sunscreen is the single most important factor in improving most causes of hyperpigmentation. Look for:
- a physical blocking sunscreen, preferably with zinc oxide as the main active ingredient
- at least an SPF 30 to 50
- broad spectrum coverage
Use a sunscreen daily. Reapply it every 2 hours if you’re out in the sun — more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.
There are also skin disorders with which visible light may play a role in perpetuating the hyperpigmentation, such as in melasma.
In that case, look for a mineral sunscreen that also has iron oxide in it, which can block some visible light. Use daily. Wear sun-protective clothing that’s SPF-infused.
Shop for SPF-infused clothing online.
Your doctor may also suggest laser treatment or chemical peels to reduce hyperpigmentation, depending on the cause of your hyperpigmentation.
It’s not always possible to prevent hyperpigmentation. However, you can protect yourself by:
- using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
- wearing hats or clothing that block sunlight
- avoiding the sun during the time of the day when it’s strongest, which is typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Avoiding certain medications may also help prevent hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation isn’t generally harmful and usually isn’t a sign of a serious medical condition.
In some cases, dark areas will fade on their own with good sun protection. In other cases, more aggressive treatment is needed. There’s no guarantee that the dark spots will fade completely, even with treatment.